Total Annihilation: Kingdoms
Game Review - by Jeremiah Pratt
Believe it or not the can lead to some interesting strategies as you can, in effect, build a wall of creatures. I found the AI to be nothing special and nowhere near as challenging as the TA AI. I don't know if the people at Cavedog tweaked the AI or not, but something needs to be done to make it stronger. As I stated earlier, the AI is just a summoning machine. It builds and builds and then swamps. Not much fun.
Gameplay itself was intriguing, but reminded me far too much of Warcraft. Maybe it was the atmosphere, maybe the types of units, but the Warcraft feel never left me. It definitely does not feel like a "Total Annihilation" game. I was a bit disappointed with magic in the game, as I found that magic did not play as much of a role as I had hoped. Warcraft 2 made much better use of magic and the combinations that could be done with certain types of magic in WC2 really set WC2 apart from TA: Kingdoms.
The single player story mode has a fascinating plot, and the in-between sequences are populated with exquisite artwork. The atmosphere created by the voice actors and the artwork is superb. My only complaint with the story mode is the constant switching of sides. Unlike MOST simulation games of this nature, you are not allowed to choose one side and then play through the story as that side.
In TA: Kingdoms the side you play changes with each scenario. The scenarios play through in chronological order, but you bounce back and forth between good and evil. So just after you finish smiting the evil lord Lokken, you must suddenly take up his banner and push back the armies you just controlled. It robs the player of his partisanship and his sense of direction. When you play as one side, you know exactly whom the enemy is and what you want to do. You know the story and you are able to learn all the intricacies that come with that side. You learn the build proficiencies and the overall weaknesses of certain units. You live and die with your allegiance.
By bouncing the player back and forth between the four sides you become more of a mercenary who seeks only to win the mission at hand. There is no loyalty and no chance to build a liking to any one side. An interesting idea that has never been done before (in my knowledge) but that in the end just doesn't work.
Where TA: Kingdoms will really shine, I believe, is on the Internet. The game is compatible with the Cavedog online gaming community "Boneyards" where all Kingdoms fans can meet and game. According to the TA website, Cavedog is also currently seeking out deals with online gaming companies who might carry Kingdoms so that they can populate North America with gaming servers.
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